Somalis - The First Decade and Beyond
by Debbie & Larry Ritter
From 1990-91 CFA Yearbook
WHAT IS A SOMALI?
Somalis are the epitome of everything that most people would ever want in a companion animal. On the one hand they are lively, alert, and actively engaged in everything new that piques their curiosity, and on the other hand when playtime is over, they will seek all the attention and affection that their caretakers are willing to give. A cozy lap is a favorite nap site after a boisterous bout of chasing elusive playmates, real or imagined.
Somalis have very resilient personalities and adapt to new people and homes with ease. Other cats and even dogs rarely pose any problems for them. They are easily trained to fetch favorite toys and have an unusual fascination with water.
Somalis usually range in size from 6 to 10 pounds, the males being somewhat larger. Acceptable coat texture varies from thick and woolly to long and silky. The former having a denser and fuller coat, and the latter having less undercoat but longer guard hairs and generally more banks of ticking. Most Somalis' coats are fairly smooth over the body and are a blend between these two extreme coat types - that is silky and luxuriant, two to three inches in length, non-matting, and easy to care for.
One remarkable aspect of the Somali is their "foxlike" appearance due to their markings, bushy tail, full breeches, and ruff. They are also very muscular, lithe and athletic.
Like its shorthaired Aby counterpart, the Somali is an active, intelligent, affectionate companion. Being extremely people oriented, Somalis are most "helpful" in assisting people in their day to day activities.
In general, Somalis are larger cats than Abys. In a litter of newborn kittens, a Somali looks decidedly different than his shorthaired cousins. In addition to being a little larger than a shorthaired kitten, the newborn ruddy Somali is born nearly black over the portions of his body that will later be ticked as an adult. The stomach and inside of the legs and chest will be a reddish cream in color.
In contrast, a shorthaired Somali or Aby is reddish in color, displaying the ruddy coloration of the adult animal. Where as Somali kittens at birth are almost black and show little hint of the rich mahogany undercolor which they will develop as they mature. Somalis are also slower to mature than Abys. With the added coat length of the Somali, ticking often takes longer to manifest itself, and the same can hold true for color.
Nothing is more delightful than to watch an impeccably groomed Somali perform in the judging ring. A natural clown, a Somali will show himself to the fullest while playing with any toy a judge chooses to honor him with. Whether in the judging ring, or at home, a Somali shows a zest for life which makes him a wonderful companion and member of the family.
1979 is marked as a special year in the history of the breed. It was the first year that Somalis were admitted into CFA Championship competition and Somali breeders were off and running to the shows!
That first year also saw Foxtail's Rio Grande, a ruddy male, bred and exhibited by Patricia Neil Warren, become the first CFA Somali Grand Champion. However, Rio, who granded on a Saturday, was first by only a matter of hours. On the following Sunday, CFA had its second Grand Champion Somali, Nephrani's Kubla Khan, a red male bred and owned by Ruth and Robert Morris.
It was a close race for the rest of the show season between Rio and Khan, but Rio went on to complete the season in a "grand" style by becoming CFA's Best Somali, and 19th Best Cat in Championship. The many shows in which both of these fine examples of Somalis were shown, and the final outcome, renewed the efforts of many old and new breeders alike, of pursuing their hopes and dreams of producing the ultimate Somali.
As we've moved through our first decade of competition, we've seen the Somali accomplish great achievements within CFA. A large number of Somalis have granded, and have also achieved Regional wins of distinction. In 1985 another ruddy male, GC, NW Murex's Sunrise, bred and owned by Richard and Karen Smith, earned top honors as CFA's 16th Best Cat in Championship.
Silamos Rocky Boy, reached a new milestone in CFA by becoming the first cat to achieve the title of Best Cat in Premiership in a CFA Region (Gulf Shore, 1984). 1990 sees another cat repeating history by also achieving the title of Best Cat in Premiership. This time the region is the Southwest and the honors go to Zarpa's Liberty Valance.
In recent years, three very high scoring fine Somalis fell just short of achieving top twenty wins at the national level. Zarpa's Durango, Zarpa's Lakota, and Nephrani's Red Flash, during their show careers, all represented the Somali at its finest. As Somalis move into their second decade of competition, it is certain that the growing number of dedicated Somali breeders will produce many more cats of superb quality and distinction.
For the first time, in the 1990-91 Show Season, Cat Fanciers will see Somalis exhibited in four colors: Ruddy, Red, Blue, and Fawn. Originally, in 1980, Somalis were only recognized in two colors, Ruddy and Red. In 1986 Blue Somalis were recognized for Championship competition. It took four more years of hard work by the Fawn breeders before their cats would obtain equal status. The first and only Blue Somali Grand Champion, as of this writing, is a female, Yum's Blueberry Cobbler, who granded in 1990. As we progress into the 1990's, we eagerly await the first Fawn Somali Grand Champion.